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The real world, in real time

Posted on Apr 14, 2021 by FEED Staff

Using Sony’s cloud-based collaboration technology, Reuters is realising its vision of a united, global newsroom

Pictured: Rob Lang, Global production editor, Reuters video news

Reuters is one of the world’s biggest and oldest news agencies. As a global news source, the agency can’t afford a day off or factor slow news days into its output. Somewhere in the world, there’s always breaking news that needs to be gathered, produced, fact-checked and made available globally through text, photo, graphics and video.
Rob Lang is the global production editor, Reuters video news. He oversees all the production systems, including cameras and workflow. “My job is to figure out how to distribute camera shots taken by journalists to the client,” he says.

The job sounds simple until you realise that, each day, the agency’s video department produces about 200 separate stories for several thousand clients operating on every platform, from broadcast news to digital to social media. Reuters also shares direct-to-consumer content through its own apps and outlets.

Until recently, Reuters operated using editing systems that differed from bureau to bureau. However, the agency soon began to develop a cloud-based system to get every bureau working off the same script, which would allow seamless collaboration on content. In Sony Professional Solutions, Reuters found an eager partner that could help bring the system to life.

“We wanted to create a unified system, so anybody – working anywhere in the world – could pick up and get started. We had some great conversations with Sony and it was clear from the beginning that they wanted to collaborate and bring our ideas to fruition,” explains Lang.

Reuters wanted to move away from the traditional hub-and-spoke model of news agencies, instead applying the cloud to create a ‘global newsroom’, where journalists’ content could not only be shared with production teams for distribution, but also be shared with fellow journalists and bureaux for their own use.

“An event might happen in the US, but we might want to create a package for that in Arabic. Previously, the assets were sent after the edit was finished in English. With the new cloud-based system, it’s available for the Arabic-language team in Cairo to use as soon as it’s created.”

Reuters prides itself on delivering speed and quality to customers

Such a system would allow content to move quickly to wherever it is needed. Reuters’ people on the ground could spend more time working on their stories, instead of producing them. With Reuters’ new unified system, the production of the piece could take place anywhere in the world.

At the core of the Reuters’ cloud solution is Sony’s Media Backbone Hive. Deployed on AWS Cloud, Hive provides direct cloud editing with Adobe Premiere and cross-platform web tools. It has enabled Reuters to share content globally for instant collaboration and cost saving, helping the agency realise its single global newsroom concept. Hive has made Reuters faster, allowing it to provide added value to its customers.

“There’s a bureaucracy around newsgathering. We have to create metadata and scripts. We have to do verification. The more time we give to our people on the ground – by taking care of all that elsewhere – the better the content,” outlines Lang.
The Covid pandemic was a challenge for production everywhere, particularly for news, but it became an opportunity to show off what Hive can do. With Hive already deployed, Reuters was able to move its people out of offices and into their homes with little friction and no major interruption in output.

“We didn’t need to worry about people’s internet connectivity, because you can use Hive with a low-bandwidth connection. And we were able to quickly continue producing content. Clients didn’t notice because the speed of our delivery didn’t change.”

Lang cites Hive’s ability to take proxy streams from the cloud into an editor’s NLE, enabling the editor to work directly with it. Accordingly, this was one of the key factors behind the deployment’s success.

“It was just an idea four or five years ago, but now it’s finally come to fruition. We’ve worked very closely with Sony to make it work to our specific standards. Reuters prides itself on delivering speed and quality to customers. Accuracy is incredibly important in our reporting, but so is speed. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve the speed of delivery from the camera to the client.”

With a unified, cloud-based workflow, Reuters slogan ‘the real world in real time’ is now even more of a reality.

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This article first featured in the Spring 2021 issue of FEED magazine.

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